TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced two new contracts with laboratories that will increase COVID-19 testing capacity by 18,000 samples per day by using rapid tests.
The results will be available in one or two days, said DeSantis, who said he spoke with Abbott Laboratory CEO Robert Ford earlier in the day.
Abbott is a Chicago-based medical device company that has developed a rapid point-of-care COVID-19 test.
“That’s a lot better than what we’re getting from Quest and LabCorps,” DeSantis said, referring to two of the private laboratories processing tests in Florida.
The rapid tests will focus on taking samples from long-term care facilities and community-based walk-up testing sites like the two that opened in Broward County last week. Hospitals have received about 1,500 rapid test kits, DeSantis said during a press conference at the Capitol in Tallahassee that was live-streamed by the Florida Channel.
“Everybody wants this test,” he said.
Private laboratories are completing more than 90% of Florida’s tests. The state labs in Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami can only complete 900 total samples at a time, DeSantis said.
DeSantis also announced that more than 10 new walk-up sites will be standing up in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval, Leon and Orange counties in the coming weeks. He said 1,599 tests have been conducted at the sites in Broward.
Florida’s Department of Health at midday Wednesday confirmed 440 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 28,309. The statewide death toll is 893, with 26 new deaths announced.
Of the 26 new deaths, 22 were in South Florida.
Fifteen people between the ages of 51 and 96 died in Broward, raising the county’s death toll to 141. In Miami-Dade, seven people between the ages of 55 and 89 died, raising the county’s death toll to 240, the highest in the state
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade became the first county in Florida to surpass 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and exceed 1,000 hospitalizations.
Despite the daily reports of additional confirmed cases and deaths, DeSantis has said that the state’s coronavirus curve had flattened.
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